Transparent utfyllnad Gotska Sandön on 4-6th June 2010
All photos by Niklas Holmström

I was 13 year old when I visited Gotska Sandön for the first time in late May 1976, along with good birding fellows. We were young then, and we still keep in touch and birding together, now and then. I fell in love with the island and visited her again in May 1977 and 1978. And then there was a gap of more than 30 years until the visit in May 2009. On this visit we were five birders from Sweden, but I travelled with my good old mates Classe and Janne Cronlund. In 1976 I was there along with Classe and a few others and in 1978 I was there with Janne. In these days one reached Gotska Sandön by fishing-boat from Fårö (Gotland).
Highlights during the stay: A male Caspian Stonechat S. t. variegatus (first record for the island and second for Sweden), Iberian Chiffchaff (first record for the island), Tawny Pipit (1), Two-barred Crossbill (1), Golden Oriole, Greenish Warbler (3), Red-breasted Flycatcher (3), Black Redstart (2), Nightjar and several White-tailed Eagles. A total of 90 bird species were seen.

My birding mates Classe and Janne Cronlund, which I have known since mid 70's! Janne and I have been birding together for years, especially in late 70's and the golden 80's, when we discovered Landsort and Utlängan as migrating sites for waterfowl.
Finally we approach Gotska Sandön!
The tip Bredsands udde seen from a westerly direction. Due to northerly winds we were to land at the southside of the island, which implies a slight 10 kilometres walk to the camp site.
When we approached Hamnudden several flocks of Common and Velvet Scoters took off from sea as well as a few Long-tailed Ducks, Arctic and Red-throated Divers. Three keen birders, from left: Johan Moberg, Janne and Classe.
Höga land, which is located at the southern part of the island. Here we saw a White-tailed Eagle soaring.
Classe scanning the sea and the air space above the island.
Johan Moberg in action.
At Vinbukten (the Bay of Wine;-) we were tranfered by dinghy in three goes. Lucky us the ferry was not fully booked!
The wardens is waiting for us and, fortunately, our luggage were transported to the camp site.
Leaving the small and steady ferry MS Gotska Sandön behind us. It then continued to Gotland to pick up passengers there.
So, then we started the long walk to the camp site. We did choose the western side while Johan did the eastern side. Of course one could reach the camp site much faster, if using the path straighht through the island, but it's rather booring.
View from Höga land.
Classe is a true geocacher. Here he found a hidden treasure at Höga land. Geocaching is a treasure hunting game where you use a GPS to hide and seek containers with other participants in the activity. For more info check
Bourgström's Mausoleum. In the mausoleum there are four coffins, in which Hjalmar, his father Anders, mother ”Madame” and a son are laid to rest.
While taking a break at Gamla Gården, we never sensed that the ghost of Madame Söderlund was watching us. Spooky!
One of the rebuilt buildings of Gamla Gården.
View towards Hamnuden at Varvsbukten.
Two exhausted, but happy brothers. After four hours walking in the heat of a sandy island you should be.
Small Pasque Flower Pulsatilla pratensis (Fältsippa in Swedish) at Kapellänget. Probably the most numerous flowering plant on the island.
Meadow Saxifrage Saxifraga granulata (Mandelblom in Swedish) fairly common at Kapellänget.
Bird's-eye Speedwell Veronica chamaedrys (Teveronika in Swedish) at Kapellänget.
Arctic starflower Trientalis europaea (Skogsstjärna in Swedish) at the lighthouse.
Gorse Ulex europaeus (Ärttörne in Swedish) at the lighthouse. It was introduced to the island in early 19th century, mainly to tie up the sand in the lighthouse area (info provided by Thomas Karlsson at The Swedish Museum of Natural History).
Classe photgraphing Common Terns at Bredsands udde in early morning.
There is a colony of Common Terns at Bredsands udde, adjacent to a loose colony of Lesser Black-backed Gulls, which contain of about 200 pairs.
The hot spot at Bredsands udde, but less movement during our visit. From left: Johan, Janne and Mattias Gerdin.
Nice flock of Brent Geese at Bredsands udde.
Brent Geese, which fly non-stop to the breeding grounds at Arctic coasts of central and western Siberia.
Dead old trees at Las Palmas.
View towards east from the ridge of Höga åsen. A walk along the ridge is highly recommended!
The northern lighthouse was designed by Gustav von Heidenstam (father of the well-known authour Verner von Heidenstam).
This nice area is named Kapellänget (roughly translated as Chapel meadow).
The Chapel.
At Kapellänget there is a "fresh" water-hole where lot of birds come to drink. A good site for a power nap or just relaxing. Janne and Mattias having a chat. Within two hours after this photo was taken Mattias found one Two-barred Crossbill at the camp site and a male Caspian Stonechat along the north-eastern shore!
In the search of the Caspian Stonechat we walked in line. Classe took the shore wall...
...and Janne the area inside the wall while...
...Johan covering the highway and I marching inbetween. A so called 4-man-flogg;-)
We were rewarded for our good disciplinarian style with a Tawny Pipit, which is rare on the island.
And there it was! The male Caspian Stonechat! Only the second record for Sweden. This poor photo is greatly enlarged, but Classe had a system camera with tele lens. Check his nice photos here
View towards Kyrkudden (with Säludden in back).
The well known beach Las Palmas! Stora Beckrevet i far background.
Janne scanning the sea while waiting for the boat. We were rewarded with two Sandwich Terns and one Little Gull.
As the winds were southerly the boat landed at Las Palmas, which made the boarding much easier and faster.
Leaving Gotska Sandön (in background) after a nice birding weekend. We decided to make it as a tradition, to visit the island in the first weekend of June. Everyone longed for a nice dinner onboard, but that's another story. See you at Gotska next year!

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